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Article Archive >> Featured Topics

So, Just How Happy Are You? Is Your Cup Half-Full or Half-Empty?

So, Just How Happy Are You?
Is Your Cup Half-Full or Half-Empty?
by Jennifer LB Leese

What is happiness? What number of ingredients does it take to find happiness? What are the roots and conditions associated with it? Does happiness control our will, our desires, our life as a whole?
The more serious thinkers among Greeks regarded happiness as a gift of the gods and that it was given as a reward for goodness of life.
Aristotle, like Plato, believed that the highest good a man can reach in his life is happiness.
We Americans have always had a thing about happiness. We spend most of our lives searching for it. The subject has been pursued, commented on, and documented throughout world history.
After all in the Declaration of Independence it says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." How can you go wrong with a statement such as this?
We've been around for quite a while now...how are we doing in this lifelong search? Well, according to the Pew Research Center just a third (34%) of adults in this country say they're very happy. Fifty percent say they are pretty happy, 15% consider themselves not too happy and 1% just don't know. These numbers have remained very stable for a very long time.
Throughout the United States (and the world) you will find many different people from many different backgrounds. They too are searching for happiness. Some are happier than others, some search so hard they may never fully understand it. Remember the saying, "money can't buy you happiness"? Is this true? The Pew Research Center says yes it can. Their survey shows that nearly half (49%) of those with an annual family income of more than $100,000 say they're very happy while 24%, making an annual family income of less than $30,000 also say they're very happy.
There are many factors to consider when evaluating just how happy you are. Did you get the promotion? Did you have a fight with someone? Did you recently have an addition to your family? Do you have a loving supportive family/spouse? All these things are important. However, many believe that happiness is influenced by the attitude and perspective taken from such circumstances. Others believe it is a state of mind, not something that comes about from outside circumstances - that if our mind is pure and peaceful, then we should have happiness, but if it impure and unpeaceful, then we'll never find happiness.
Dr. Holden, happiness expert, says the key to being happy is overcoming "destination addiction," which he defines as "living in the not-now."
"It's always about tomorrow, so you're chasing 'more,' 'next' and 'there,'" he says. "You promise yourself that when you get there, you'll be happy. And I promise you, you won't, because you'll always set another destination to go for."
"We have to learn to let go of our past, we have to give up all hopes for a perfect past. Let the past go, it's gone." After that, he says, "Take a vow of kindness. Be kinder to yourself and to others.
"It's never too late to be happy," he says.
Dr. Robert Holden has dedicated his life to studying the pursuit of happiness. The psychologist is the director of The Happiness Project - a pioneer in the field of positive psychology and well-being in England and the author of Happiness Now! and Shift Happens!
Dr. Holden feels that most of those looking for happiness often don't realize they already have it. It's a lesson that he says he was lucky to learn at age 18 from a spiritual teacher. "He said, 'Look, actually, Robert, you're already happy.' And I said, 'Well, that's great, but I don't feel it. So tell me, what do I have to do?'" Dr. Holden recalls. "And he said, 'You have to understand that the pursuit of happiness is a mistake. It's like, you don't chase happiness out there. You learn that you're happy inside you and then you go running. Then you go into the world.'"
Stress-proof your life by believing in yourself, having the right attitude, listening and communicating, having healthy relationships and friendships, set goals, learn what's important, and lastly, laugh a lot!
Laughter helps us see things more clearly. We tend to be overly serious. This attitude leads to sickness and stress. Laugher goes a long way! Smiling gives you a face-lift. Dr. Holden says, "Go out to play, call up a friend for fun, indulge in recreation therapy, let your favorite comedian entertain you, do something silly."
"Finding happiness is like finding yourself. You don't find happiness, you make happiness. You choose happiness. Self-actualization is a process of discovering who you are, who you want to be and paving the way to happiness by doing what brings YOU the most meaning and contentment to your life over the long run." (David Leonhardt, The Happy Guy)
The Bible has a fair amount of statements on being happy. One of my favorites is:"If you know these things, happy are you if you do them."-John 13:17. This statement was by Jesus after He washed His disciples' feet. He told them their happiness would come from having a servant attitude toward one another and others.
Remember, happiness is contagious...when you reflect happiness, then all others around you catch the happy bug and are happy, too.
I tend to believe that happiness is a decision - not a situation. Being happy, truly happy, means you have to decide to be happy today and tomorrow. Enjoy life, relax, and realize that having that brand new car, that dream house, or top-paying job, isn't going to make you happy, it's going to give you satisfaction. Yes, satisfaction adds to your happiness, but it does not make you happy.


Sources: David Leonhardt (TheHappyGuy.com), Pew Research Center, Wikipedia, FindHappiness.org, The Happiness Project (happiness.co.uk)

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